Bars Burgers Restaurant Reviews Restaurants

The J. Parker Rooftop & Leader Bar Mozzarella Sticks – Chicago

leader bar chicago sunnyside burger
The Sunny Side Burger w/ Merkt's Cheddar at Leader Bar

The Chicago Air & Water Show was this weekend and Iman decided we needed to do something “summery” since the summer is winding down in Chicago. Despite the fact that Sunday definitely didn’t feel like summer, he reserved a table at The J. Parker Rooftop Restaurant for us to watch the Air & Water Show…

j parker rooftop chicago view
View from the J. Parker Rooftop for the Chicago Air & Water Show…

If you were around Chicago on Sunday then you probably know that the Air & Water Show ended up getting canceled due to low clouds, but we still had a great time on the rooftop drinking, however the eating part wasn’t so great… at least at The J. Parker.

The J. Parker Rooftop Restaurant

All of the menu items are small plates, which was totally fine as we were all going to share anyways; what we shouldn’t have done was ordered everything at the same time, as we were sitting at a pretty small table.

I could already tell from just looking at the menu that it was going to be a bit of an adventurous day, eating wise, for me. Everything on the menu seemed to have some ingredient I’d never heard of or had no desire to try. But I was starving, so if we were going to be sitting around drinking all day then I had to force myself to eat something, thankfully there were french fries.

After ordering our first round of drinks we pretty much decided on one of everything on the menu. There were a couple things that we didn’t get, but nobody was trying to eat a salad. So with that said, let’s run down the list of everything we got:

j parker chicago rooftop deviled eggs
Deviled Eggs w/ Curry and Chili Sauce – J. Parker Rooftop

Deviled Eggs with curry and chili oil. I do love me a deviled egg, but I don’t so much enjoy curry or chili oil, but again, I was starving so I had to try it. It wasn’t terrible, but the curry taste just didn’t do it for me. The chili oil really didn’t seem to add anything to the flavor, but I decided to forego another one and just wait for the fries and mini burgers.

j parker chicago rooftop mini burger
Mini Burger… wasn’t very good.

The J. Parker Mini Burgers consisted of dry-aged beef, butterkase cheese, horseradish mustard mayo, lettuce, charred onion, and pickles on a pretzel bun. These were not good. There was definitely something else mixed in with the beef that wasn’t beef, but the menu doesn’t tell you what. The cheese wasn’t terrible, but I’m not sure if I even tasted it due to the horseradish mustard mayo that was dripping out of it. Everything else was on the side so I didn’t even bother adding it. I would definitely not order these burgers again, and pretty much everyone at the table agreed with me. Celeste ventured out and got the Walleye Pike Mini Burger instead and she seemed to enjoy that, but the normal burgers did not go over well.

j parker chicago rooftop cheese plate
Cheese Plate at the J. Parker Rooftop Restaurant

I did not try the Peekytoe Crab Beignets with pea shoots, radish, and bluegrass soy vinaigrette, but it was definitely more popular than the burgers. As was the Selection of Midwestern Cheeses with PV preserves, fruit and nut bread. But I think everyone’s favorite, aside from the french fries, which were normal, was the Gunthorp Wings with Bowser’s bbq sauce. However, by saying they were everyone’s favorite, they were just better than all of the other subpar food we had. The wings were pretty tasty, but they were extremely small. You could take one bite and be totally done with one of them. Nick ordered a second plate of them after he arrived and his seemed to be much larger than the plate we got.

j parker chicago rooftop bbq wings
BBQ Wings – Super small, but the best thing we had all day at J. Parker

I’m fully confident in saying that I would never go back to The J. Parker to eat, ever. The rooftop itself was awesome, and it would have been a great place to watch the Air & Water Show had it not gotten canceled, but the food itself is not worth the money. The drinks were pretty tasty and god knows we had plenty of those, but if you’re looking for a delicious rooftop dining experience I would go somewhere else.

Leader Bar

After finding out that the Air & Water Show was canceled, after a 4 hour delay, we decided to leave The J. Parker and go get some better food elsewhere. We had heard about this place called Leader Bar, which is near Iman and Jillian’s house, that was supposed to have amazing Mozzarella Sticks, according to Chicago’s Best. Naturally, as soon as I heard mozzarella sticks I was sold. So we jumped in an Uber car and made our way back… but not without having to take a pit stop at the laundry mat… which is another story not fit for a food blog.

leader bar chicago mozzarella sticks
Enjoying a better meal at Leader Bar

We arrived at Leader Bar around 4-4:30 and the place was pretty dead, but I was actually super impressed by how nice it is inside. I’m not sure why I pictured it in my head as being a dump, but I was pleasantly surprised.

The drinking continued as we tried to figure out what we were going to eat. Mozzarella sticks were a given, but there were so many other good options that it was hard to decide. Nick, Iman and I ended up with burgers, while Celeste and Jillian got chicken tenders. I ended up going with The Sunny Side Burger which was a burger with cheddar cheese (which I substituted for Merkt’s cheddar), bacon and a sunny side up egg on top. It was pretty damn good, way better than anything we had at The J. Parker, that’s for sure.

leader bar chicago sunnyside burger
The Sunny Side Burger w/ Merkt’s Cheddar at Leader Bar

The real star of the show, however, was the mozzarella stick. Chicago’s Best wasn’t lying when they featured it on their show. It’s hand made and fried to perfection. Each order comes with 4 sticks, which equals about a 1/2 pound of cheese per order. They might have been the greatest mozzarella stick I’ve ever had, and I’ve had quite a few of them in my life. I would highly recommend getting them if you make your way over to Leader Bar. And actually, if you get the fried chicken tenders, they also use the same breading as the mozzarella sticks, so you can’t go wrong there either.

mozzarella stick leader bar chicago
This mozzarella stick from Leader Bar was incredible, I will be back.

Overall I was very impressed with everything about Leader Bar and only impressed by the view and the drinks at The J. Parker, although our server was pretty good there as well. If they would have just had the same food the Leader Bar has, on the rooftop, The J. Parker would have been absolutely amazing, but sadly they do not, and sadly I would never recommend anyone going there for food. Hopefully before the Chicago summer ends we’ll get a nice day where we can go sit out on a rooftop and drink again, but the way things are going right now, “summer” might be over….

J Parker on UrbanspoonLeader Bar on Urbanspoon

About the author

Tom

I'm a married man in his 30's who doesn't really "like" food. If it weren't for my wife I would be living off of pizza and cheeseburgers for the rest of my life. Follow me as I venture slightly out of my comfort zone to try different foods and restaurants.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Newsletter

Subscribe to be notified of new food, restaurants, and recipes!

Follow Me

Sometimes it's food, sometimes it's not...